Salsify is a root vegetable that belongs to the genus Scorzonera in the broad sunflower family. Salsify root’s thick black skin is typically regarded as inedible and is usually removed before or after boiling. When eaten, salsify is mostly mixed with other vegetables.
Due to its ornamental properties, salsify(1) was tremendously popular in ancient Rome; however, the growth of it is like that of carrot.
Though salsify is consumed in parts of Europe, it is known to be a native of Spain.
What is Salsify? An Overview
Salsify refers to two breeds of the vegetable, with black salsify being the most common salsify grown and consumed the world over. In ancient times, salsify used to be extremely popular, but it later lost its recognition during the fall of the 19th century. The other form, i.e., purple salsify, is a root vegetable prevalently known as the oyster plant, a member of the Asteraceae(2) family.
Salsify offers several impressive health benefits to support the immune system, improve digestion, regulate blood pressure, combat cancerous cells, improve skin health, and promote healthy bones.
Nutritional Components of Salsify
Salsify is a genuine powerhouse of nutrients, including substantial amounts of copper, magnesium, phosphorous, manganese, calcium, iron, and potassium, as well as several vitamins such as thiamine, riboflavin, ascorbic acid, pantothenic acid, vitamin B6, and folate. Salsify is also a good source of dietary fiber, insulin, and protein.
The Salsify root comprises 82 calories per 100 grams, almost as that of in sweet potatoes. In spite, the roots of Salsify is rich in many health-benefiting phytonutrients, inulin, vitamins, and minerals.
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10 Scientific Benefits of Salsify For Health
Salsify offers numerous benefits to improve your overall health and wellness. Some of the significant scientifically-proven benefits of salsify include:
1. Improves Digestion
The dietary fiber content in salsify helps maintain a healthy digestive system. Also, the right blend of soluble and insoluble dietary fiber in salsify helps encourage your bowel movements along with adding bulk to your stools to relieve constipation.
2. Helps Immune System
Vitamin C is one of the major components found in salsify that is widely acclaimed to reduce the risk of infections, boost your immune system, and prevent pathogens from damaging your tissues and cells.
3. Helps Regulate Blood Pressure
Your kidneys are accountable for the regulation of blood pressure. Salsify has the right combination of potassium and calcium along with a low quantity of sodium that helps maintain the correct blood pressure.
4. Helps Improve Skin Texture
The vitamins, mainly C and A, present in salsify help eliminate signs of aging. As a result, it enhances the luster and texture of your skin, thence helping you maintain a youthful and glowing appearance. Also, salsify aids in improving the color, strength, structure, and elasticity of your skin.
5. Fights Cancerous Cells
Salsify is a rich source of antioxidants that come handy to reduce a wide range of carcinogens and, therefore, it aids in the prevention or management of ovary, colon, prostate, and breast cancer. Antioxidants and vitamin C help fight free radicals and oxidative stress, thence reducing your risk of cancer.
6. Maintains Healthy Bones
This vegetable is a rich source of dietary minerals, magnesium, copper, and calcium that helps to build and sustain healthy bone tissues. Regular consumption of salsify is known to reduce the risk of arthritis and other disorders or the joints and bones. Also, the Vitamin C content in salsify helps support the synthesis of collagen that is known to be a major constituent of connective tissues found in your joints.
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7. Helps Relieve Premenstrual Syndrome
Salsify contains a high amount of calcium that helps alleviate pain, mood swings, anxiety, and breast tenderness, all of which are common symptoms of pre-menstruation. Salsify can help bring significant relief from the common symptoms of premenstrual syndrome.
8. Helps Lose Weight
Though physical activity and exercise are considered the best weight loss measures, fiber-rich salsify helps to lose weight by improving satiety and controlling insulin spikes. Being a low-calorie vegetable, salsify is just the right food for weight-conscious people or those suffering from obesity.
9. Supports Brain Health
Salsify is an excellent source of vitamins that improve the development and functioning of the brain. Vitamin A comes handy in enhancing signal conduction of neurotransmitters by taking nerve signals from one nerve cell to the other and, therefore, keeps your cognitive health and brain functions actively along with reducing several brain conditions such as anxiety and depressions.
10. Regulates Blood Sugar
Salsify contains insulin, the hormone responsible for controlling blood sugar and, therefore, is hugely beneficial for patients who have diabetes.
[Read: Best foods to Control Diabetes]
Incredible Salsify Recipes
Salsify is mainly cooked as a vegetable mixed with other veggies. Some chefs also prepare salsify in a mixture of water and milk to get a richer flavor. You can even roast salsify with a drizzle of oil and possibly some chopped garlic and herbs. Numerous people across Europe prefer to enjoy salsify fritters as a healthy and low-calorie brunch.
Healthy DIY recipes that can help you include the benefits of salsify in your diet.
1. Salsify Fritters
A fantastic lunch or brunch dish, and ideally served along with a poached or fried egg and a few crisp rashers.
Here’s the recipe to make six fritters.
- One finely-diced small red chili
- 300-gram salsify
- 45-gram unsalted butter
- One garlic clove, minced
- Freshly ground and salted black pepper
- One egg, lightly beaten
- One tablespoon flour
- Three tablespoons finely chopped coriander
- Two tablespoon olive oil
How to prepare:
- Peel the salsify and coarsely grated
- Warm 20 gram of butter in a pan over medium heat, then sauté the salsify till it softens
- Transfer the stuff to a wide-mouthed bowl and mix it with the coriander, egg, flour, garlic, and chili
- Then, season generously before forming six fritters
- Lastly, warm the rest of butter along with the olive oil in a pan on medium heat, then cook the salsify fritters till it turns golden, around 4 minutes a side
2. Salsify Tempura Sauce
Battered, crunchy salsify is delectable with this spicy easy-dip sauce; however, it is also fantastic when served with a few lemon wedges and flaky sea salt.
Here’s the recipe that serves four as a starter:
3-4 scorzonera roots or salsify
For the batter:
- 125-grams plain flour
- One egg yolk
- ½ tablespoon of sea salt
- 175ml sparkling water
For the sauce:
- Two medium red chilies, seeds and membrane removed, and finely diced
- Two tablespoon caster sugar
- 100ml cider vinegar
- One large grated garlic clove
- Two tablespoon water
- Around 1-liter groundnut or sunflower oil for frying
How to prepare:
- Start with making the dipping sauce
- Keep all the ingredients in a saucepan, keep over medium heat and stir to dissolve the sugar
- Then, increase the heat a bit, reach a simmer, and cook till it becomes syrupy and reduced around 5 minutes
- Now pour in a bowl and set aside till you’re set to serve
- Add water to a medium saucepan, bring it to a boil, then cook the salsify for some 5 minutes
- Refresh by draining in cold water, rub off its skin, and make 4cm pieces of the salsify
- Now whisk the content for the batter
- Heat 10cm of oil in a heavy-based and deep saucepan till it reaches 180C on the frying thermometer
- Lastly, dip the salsify gently in the batter before deep frying a few pieces one by one till they turn golden and crisp
- Serve instantly with the dipping sauce
Excessive consumption of the salsify root can lead to abdominal discomfort, diarrhea, stomachache, and bloating. Inulin content in salsify also prompts a hypersensitivity reaction, redness, and itching in sensitive individuals.
While it’s safe and beneficial when consumed in moderation, excessive use of salsify can also lead to oral allergy syndrome and contact dermatitis.
Salsify may be unpopular in most parts of the world except Europe; its benefits for the human body just can’t be overlooked.
It is a more natural substitute for health and dietary supplements that claim to provide similar functions but eventually end up destroying the cells of your body. Due to its excellent composition and nutritional value, salsify will undoubtedly add a whole new dimension to your gamut of recipes.
Feel free to enjoy salsify as a flavorsome, nutrition-rich, low-calorie, and utterly useful inclusion to almost any vegetable meal.